Learn About Lentils

Author: Chef Toby

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What are lentils?

Lentils are a type of legume that are a staple across many different cuisines. Lentils are the dried seeds that are on the inside of the lentil pod, which are cooked by rehydrating them in boiling water. There are many varieties and colors of lentils, such as yellow, red, green, and brown lentils. Lentils are round and somewhat flat, similar to the shape of a lens. 

What do lentils taste like?

Lentils have an earthy flavor and somewhat mealy texture, similar to that of beans. The different varieties of lentils can have different flavors, with red lentils having a bit of a sweeter taste, and green and black lentils having more notes of spice and pepper. Lentils for the most part are very mild and will take on the flavor of whatever seasonings or spices are used on them.

How do you eat lentils?

Lentils can be cooked and used in many dishes like soups, stews, salads, pasta dishes, and dips. They can be used in dishes that commonly use beans, like chili or pasta e fagioli soup. You can also eat them as a simple lentil soup, and make them by boiling the lentils with water and onion. You can also cook and drain the lentils and add them to salads for a boost of nutrition and protein. 

Add salt, lentils, water and onion to a pot
In our lentil soup video, we use green lentils and make the soup using water, onion, and salt.

Where do you buy lentils?

Lentils can be purchased at most grocery stores. Find them in the pasta and grain aisle, near the beans, sold dried and in plastic bags. Some stores with a bulk aisle will also sell lentils in bulk by the pound. Some stores may also sell lentils that have already been cooked and refrigerated. 

How do you store lentils?

Store dried lentils in its packaging or in an airtight container or zip-top bag. Dried lentils will last a long time in the pantry, for up to year. If you have leftover cooked lentils, they will last in the refrigerator for about one week. 

Fun fact about lentils

On average, there are 1-3 lentils inside of each lentil pod!

Did you know?

Lentils are a nutritional superfood and contain a variety of different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including: 

  • Polyphenols: Antioxidant that helps prevent cancer
  • Vitamin B6: Helps to aid brain development and nervous system health
  • Iron: Aids in a variety of bodily functions, including digestion, immune function, sleep, and concentration. 

Our Recipes Using Lentils 

Lentil Soup 

In our recipe video lesson for lentil soup, we use green lentils.

lentils soup recipe

Other Recipe Ideas 

Lentil Dip

To make this delicious cold dip, start by adding cooked, drained, and cooled lentils into a large glass bowl. Add in diced tomatoes, minced garlic, chopped basil, chopped parsley, and olive oil. Add in crumbled feta cheese and stir to combine. 

Curried Lentils

To make this vegan Indian dish, start by heating a skillet over medium heat. Add in oil and toast coriander, cumin, and garlic until brown. Then add in tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, and sea salt. Add in the lentils along with water and boil until the lentils are tender. Finish off the dish with canned coconut milk and serve with rice.

Tomato Lentil Soup

To make this soup, start by sauteeing onion, carrots, and garlic with olive oil in a dutch oven or large stockpot. Then, add in tomato paste, potatoes, lentils, diced tomatoes, and season with paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. Then, add water and a vegetable bouillon cube and cook on low for 40 minutes until the lentils are tender. Serve the soup with crusty bread or our grilled cheese sandwich.

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